The 3 Goals of Your Donor Stewardship Program

by Joe Garecht

Happy Donors

Every non-profit understands the goal for its donor prospecting program: meet new people and get them to make a donation. Getting that first check is the primary purpose of everything your fundraising staff does after meeting a new prospective donor.

Yet, many organizations aren’t quite as certain what their goals are after that first gift comes in. They know they should thank the donor for his or her gift. Likewise, they’re pretty sure they should stay in touch with the donor in the hope that they will make additional gifts in the future.

But other than that… most donor stewardship programs are nebulous, at best.

The truth is that nothing your non-profit does should be without a defined purpose. Your organization has limited resources, and lots of great work that needs to be done. Your fundraising activities should all be carried out with an eye on specific goals and targets. When it comes to donor stewardship, your non-profit should have three very clear goals:

Goal #1: Get Your Donors to Keep Giving

Your first task after receiving a gift from a new donor is to get that donor to continue giving to your organization. Ideally, new donors will become lifelong donors to your organization. Thus, you’ll want to thank the donor promptly and keep communicating with them through your newsletter, personal e-mails, cultivation events, etc.

Remember, though, that donors won’t give again unless you ask. Your objective is to make the donor feel like an important part of your team. Then, when the time is right, ask for a second gift. Then cultivate some more, and ask for a third gift, etc.

Goal #2: Get Your Donors to Upgrade

The second primary goal of your donor stewardship program is to get your donors to upgrade by giving a larger gift this year than they did last year. As you strengthen the relationship between your donors and the organization, donors will be willing to increase their investment in your work. Likewise, many donors will be willing to upgrade to monthly giving, major giving, or planned giving.

Again, donors won’t upgrade unless you ask them to, so you will need to include upgrade asks into your donor funnel. To learn how to make upgrade asks, read How to Upgrade Your Donors.

Goal #3: Get Your Donors to Refer New Donors

One of the absolute best sources of new prospects for your non-profit is referrals from current donors. Thus, the third goal of your donor stewardship program is to get your donors to open up their networks to your organization by referring you to their friends, neighbors, colleagues, business partners, families, etc. You can then begin the process again by meeting and cultivating these new prospects.

If you’d like to learn how to get your current donors to make referrals to your organization, read The Best Place to Find New Donor Prospects for Your Non-Profit.

Remember… donor stewardship is about more than just thanking and recognizing your donors. It has very real, very important fundraising goals that help supercharge your fundraising by bringing in constant revenue, larger gifts, and new donors to your organization.

Photo Credit: San Jose Library

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